South East Wales

Harley Ruck killing by mother Jade 'not preventable'

The killing of an 11-month-old girl by her depressed mother could not have been predicted or prevented, a serious case review has found.

Harley Ruck suffered multiple stab wounds in an attack by her mother, Jade, 23, at their home in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, in November 2010.

The review found that despite contact with "various agencies" there was no evidence Harley was at risk of harm.

Jade Ruck was ordered to be detained in hospital indefinitely in July 2011.

She had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Swansea Crown Court.

The jury heard that Jade Ruck had had difficulty coming to terms with the end of her relationship with Jade's father.

She carried out a "frenzied" knife attack and then called the emergency services.

Police arrived at her flat at about 05:30 GMT and found Harley dead in the hallway.

The court heard that the child's mother was acting as if nothing was wrong and told officers: "I'm free now, I'm alright as long as I'm free."

A post-mortem examination found there were signs of strangulation and suffocation as well as multiple stab wounds.

The court heard that Harley's father, Dorian Twist, had hours earlier asked his mother to check on his ex-girlfriend and his daughter.

He had received a call a few days previously in which she was shouting and saying she was still in love with him and he needed to come and see her, the court was told.

Image caption Neighbours left tributes at the flats in Abergavenny where Jade and Harley Ruck lived

The serious case review by Monmouthshire Local Safeguarding Children's Board, which referred to Harley as "Child A," noted that Gwent Police were called by someone "concerned for the welfare of Child A's mother as she had just spoken to her and she had stated she felt like dying".

It added: "The caller also stated she had seen Child A's mother earlier that day and that she was concerned about her."

The summary said: "As a result of the call the police visited the home and spoke to the mother.

"Child A was seen and found to be sleeping in a well-kept, tidy flat. [Her] mother stated she had trouble sleeping over the previous few nights which had left her feeling emotional and tearful.

"Avenues for support were discussed and the police left with mother saying that she intended to retire to bed for the evening and seek advice in the morning.

"The police were satisfied that no further immediate action was required and made a referral to social services for a follow up assessment.

"At 05.34 am on the same day a telephone call was received from mother stating that she had stabbed her baby.

"Police attended and found Child A deceased with multiple stab wounds. Mother was arrested for murder."

'Struggled in adolescence'

Ms Ruck denied murder and her plea for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was accepted.

The serious review report found that she had come to the attention of police and social services on two different occasions but "but neither event raised concerns about the parenting provided".

It added: "Mother's episodes of depression that were treated appropriately and she had been offered further help".

It said she "was like many young people who had struggled in adolescence and found themselves managing the responsibilities of parenthood at an early age".

Simon Burch, chair of Monmouthshire's safeguarding board, said: "This has been a tragic case and our thoughts are with the family and the rest of the local community at this difficult time.

"The independent report is clear that these events could not have been predicted or prevented by any of the services involved."

Social work consultant Delyth Lloyd Griffiths told BBC Radio Wales nobody could have predicted the tragic outcome.

She said: "The conclusion of the serious case review was that all the agencies worked very well together and followed the All Wales child protection procedures.

"Services were provided and monitoring had been undertaken but the mental health of the mother took a turn that nobody could have predicted."

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